Lakers Practice Report: Day One in El Segundo - 12/9/11

For the first day of Lakers training camp, at least one unscientific count had more reporters on the premises than any day of Phil Jackson’s last season.

It was a “welcome to Los Angeles” moment for new head coach Mike Brown, who had enough on his plate in implementing new offensive and defensive systems before a trade reportedly including Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom was announced, and then vetoed, on Thursday night.

Before practice started at roughly 11 a.m., Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak briefly addressed the team regarding the situation.

“He told them exactly what happened,” said Brown. “We all have a job to do. You feel bad for the people involved, but we get paid to play basketball … stuff happens, and the big thing is, if you can look someone in the eye and say, ‘This is what it is, this is what happened, and I don’t know what else could happen.’ As a person, you respect that.”

When Brown’s whistle blew, it was time to focus on the introduction of his system and terminology, with a particular focus on defense, which his best player appreciated.

“It was good. It was fun. Learned a lot, (were) taught a lot, (had) a great first day,” said Kobe Bryant. “(Brown) is very detail oriented, passionate and a hard worker. I can respect that.

“I think his attention to detail will win the rest of the guys over. He's a great communicator, very enthusiastic. We jumped through drills today and he's very adamant about some of the things he wanted to see done.”

Practice No. 1 was more about teaching and demonstrating from Brown and his large, new staff than it was about physical exertion – though Metta World Peace did go through a few practice jerseys from sweating so much. Several individual defensive drills were taught, offensive spacing was touched upon and Brown began to put in his defensive shell, designed to teach positioning that varies based on where the ball is.

Pau Gasol did not participate in practice, as he underwent a routine medical test at the doctor’s office that he was unable to do on Thursday. Gasol does have what team spokesman John Black called a “strained quad” that has him listed as “day-to-day,” but Gasol said on Thursday afternoon that he generally feels good:

“Pretty good. Pretty fresh. I’m trying to get ready physically and mentally for what seems like will be a very demanding season, with more games in a shorter time. There’s also the challenge of having a new coaching staff in a season full of expectations and challenges. But I’m excited. There’s so much on the table, and I appreciate that.”

Gasol is expected to be at Saturday’s practice. Meanwhile, the Spaniard’s frontcourt partner for the past two and a half seasons, Lamar Odom, also did not practice on Friday. Odom did come to the facility for a meeting with Kupchak, but left shortly thereafter. He’s expected to undergo his physical exam on Saturday morning, and the Lakers aren’t sure if he’ll be done in time topractice.

In short, Mike Brown said he was empathetic towards Odom and Gasol’s situation regarding the trade discussion, and would simply focus on the players he had on the floor.

If you’ve been around Kobe Bryant in a media scrum, you know that his various injuries over the years aren’t generally his favorite topic of conversation. So when asked about the right knee that he had worked upon in Germany over thesummer, it was no surprise that No. 24 responded in two words: “You’ll see.” Yet the look in his eye and his tone of voice was one we’ve seen before, implying something closer to ‘Oh, you will definitely see just how good I feel, and quite soon.’
*The question will be how Bryant’s knee, which he told trainer Gary Vitti felt “great,” holds up over the 66-game season, but right now all signs have been very positive.

Andrew Bynum’s way of describing how Kobe looked was that he was “definitely not winded” by any drills.

Mike Brown has coached against Andrew Bynum and watched plenty of film on L.A.’s biggest player, but he was still surprised at just how big, long and strongBynum was in person when putting his hands on him during practice drills.

Brown took care to mention that as big as Bynum is, he felt really lean, long andstrong, saying that he was “excited about how (Bynum’s) come into camp. Bynum revealed that he did quite a bit of boxing from the end of June through September, and strength/basketball training since, to help him slim down to 278 pounds.

"I feel good,” he said. “Knees are fine. In good shape. I'm light.”

That’s certainly good news for the Lakers, who will get a fully healthy Bynum to start the season – after he serves his five game suspension, that is – in contrast to last year, when he missed the first 24 games recovering from offseason kneesurgery.

In contrast to Bynum, Metta World Peace (many of his teammates still call him “Ron,” which is cool with him) did not report in particularly good condition. Mike Brown called Artest “obviously a little overweight,” which Artest said came due in part to uncertainty about when the season would start. Metta added that he was in shape over the summer, and is starting to get back to where he wants to be, though he continues to be bothered by Achilles tendinitis.

World Peace practiced in full on Friday, but will likely be held out of one practice when the team commences with two-a-day sessions. Meanwhile, fellow small forward Matt Barnes is “98 percent” healthy after a bothersome knee in 2010-11.